If any of you have been wondering where I’ve gone – it’s been nearly two weeks since I last posted – I’ve been in the beautiful city of Paris!
Naturally I have a lot of pictures and adventures to share with you all, but before I do that I thought I’d write a little guide to Paris and give you a taster of the posts I’ll be adding later this week! I’ve also created a little video, if you’d like to take a look:
What did I do?
I went with a company called Riviera, which I suppose makes this a package holiday. Don’t roll your eyes just yet, because this was a brilliantly cost effective way to travel. A return ticket on the Eurostar, a three night stay in a four star hotel on the edge of the city, breakfast, and the option of a coach and your guide to ferry us around to the best landmarks for just over £300? To me, that’s pretty amazing value!
During my little stay, I took a coach tour of the city, walked around the beautiful Versailles Palace, went shopping on the Champs-Élysées (twice!), enjoyed a night tour of Paris and saw the light show at the Eiffel Tower, took in the scenic sights at Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur, took a boat ride across the Seine, visited Le Petit Palais to take in absorb culture and travelled up to the third floor of the Eiffel Tower. Not to mention the countless cafés and restaurants!
A jam packed weekend right?
The sights to see
You can’t go to Paris without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, which offers one of the most beautiful, panoramic views of the city. I’m lucky enough to not suffer with vertigo (I actually quite enjoy heights!) but my mum does – and even she was okay with the 1000 foot heights – you feel completely safe up there. It’s most definitely worth a visit and if you can get tickets online before hand to save you the hour long queues, all the better.
You need to take in a bit of culture when in Paris – a museum is definitely called for. Luckily, Paris has about a million of them. Do you want to see classic artworks such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo? Head to Louvre! Is Impressionism your bag? The Musée d’Orsay for you! There’s also plenty of architecture to absorb by walking around the city, from the Gothic spires of Notre Dame to the Baroque beauty of the Louvre, and the Egyptian Luxor Obelisk in Place de la Concorde.
When I wasn’t travelling via coach, I was taking the Metro to get from A to B. It’s a lot like the Underground, but less scary. You see, Paris is a pretty safe city and unlike London, where the tubes are filled with strangers eyeballing each other warily, the set up was bus-like, with clusters of seats and normal people having a nice chat. It’s even safe at night- still full of families, old people and vicars. If I had to catch the Underground at 11pm I’d be a little scared, I’m not going to lie! Why I was getting the metro at nearly midnight is another story – look out for that in my Day 1 blog post! The metro is incredibly fast and it never took more then fifteen minutes to get anywhere. I’d definitely recommend that as your primary mode of transport. You can purchase metro tickets in books of 10 from a Tabac or at the station, which is useful, but be careful where you put them because they are tiny!
The people make a city in my opinion. The people of Paris are generally a pretty friendly lot – the streets are a lot less crowded and people walk more slowly than in London, which gives it a calmer and more relaxed vibe. Waiters were nearly always super friendly, smiley and willing to indulge my Franglais. I mentioned Paris was rather a safe city (which I think is something to do with everyone staying out so late, even little kids). It’s not a place you need to worry about getting mugged in, for example. But there is one crime to be aware of: pick pocketing.
There are a couple of things you can do to avoid falling prey to pick pocketers, tips I’m sure you’ll have heard before: do not leave your bag unattended – even if it’s on the floor by your feet or on your chair next to you, walk with your bag securely over your shoulder and with the zips turned towards your body, split your cash between your purse, the internal zip in your bag and pockets on yourself, if you have any. All fairly common sense, right?
There are a lot of people selling things in Paris, so be aware for people approaching you. Most of these people are completely safe, so there’s no need to be scared of them – but it’s important to know who’s who. I’ve made a little breakdown so you know who’s approaching you and who to avoid.
This is the only group in my list you need to be wary of. They approach you with a petition – usually for a deafness charity – and distract you with their clipboard whilst they, or an accomplice, relieve you of your valuables. These young gypsy women tend to roam in groups and target tourists – English speaking tourists particularly. They’re not at all hard to stay away from, and they hang out by big tourist destinations and say ‘speak English?’ before approaching. A simple ‘non merci’ will suffice and just keep on walkin’!
You’ll know them as the guys armed with about forty large Eiffel Tower ornaments, hundreds of key rings and rolls of postcards in a sack. As our tour guide said ‘I’ve known a lot of these African guys for near on twenty years and they’re just trying to make an honest living’ – so there’s no need to be any warier of these guys than you would any other stranger – they’re a great source to purchase postcards (18 for a couple of euros!) and little souvenirs like key rings and gizmos , which they sell for cheaper than the tourist shops. The street sellers I encountered also happened to be super friendly and we had a nice chat about England. Lovely.
Similar to the above, but they sell friendship bracelets instead of Eiffel Towers. I saw these guys in Montmartre as you approach the Sacre Coeur, which is a major tourist destination. Again, harmless – but there’s just one thing to be wary of – they ask you to stick your finger out and before you know it, they’ve slipped a bracelet onto your hand (which they’re attached to) and you’re a captive market. It’s then a bit of a pain to un-bracelet yourself and move away.Our tour guide advised that if you don’t want a bracelet, just put your hand on your heart and say ‘non, merci’ as you walk on by.
I’d again like to reiterate – Paris is a safe city – I thought it was interesting to encounter these different types of people (and finding out about the petition scammers particularly piqued my interest). I chose to share this information because I found it fascinating and it’s always good to be prepared and aware.
Many people could wax lyrical here – but I’m not that clued up on food. I will say there’s more cafés and restaurants than you could imagine and they’re all pretty good! Sometimes the most famous ones aren’t the best and they come in a range of prices. If you eat and drink and the hotspots all time, you’ll be very poor. But even the poshest streets have a cheaper alternative – it’s worth checking out and comparing the prices before going in. Also, no trip to Paris is complete to me without eating baguettes (jambon et fromage, merci!), croissants, macarons (Laduree!), a chocolate and vanilla glace and, surprisingly, burgers. I had an excellent cheese and bacon burger at La Fontaine this time round- maybe I should add “eat a burger on every continent” to my bucket list?
Stay tuned for a day by day recap of the glorious time I had in Paris. I’m still buzzing! I have so many fun facts, lovely pictures and embarrassing moments to share.
Until next time,